I miss being able to write each week. It’s just not possible right now. I’m working 10-12 hours a day, need another couple hours to workout and get ready for work. By the time I get home, I eat, pack food and gym bag for the next day, and spend a couple hours watching Netflix or reading to unwind enough to be able to fall asleep.
Lack of sleep is still a problem. I need to get up at 3 am to get my workout in before getting to school by 6 am. I’ve been averaging about 5 hours a night. By Thursday, I’m pretty loopy. Even though I feel like I’m recovering from the lifts, I’m having issues with my left knee. Pain keeps moving around it, so I suspect that it is a recovery problem. I’m also cutting weight and that doesn’t work as well when I’m not getting enough sleep. The solution is to go to bed at 6 pm. That’s going to be tough to do, but I am going to try. We have Thanksgiving break this week, so I’m looking forward to a lot of sleep.
The knee is annoying. I didn’t hurt it at the gym, as you might expect. The pain started about a month after I started teaching at this new school. I’m on my feet most of the day and my room is on the second floor. I got a knee sleeve to wear at the gym and a brace to wear at work. A couple weeks ago, I brought a stool to my room so I can get weight off that leg sometimes while teaching. I’ve had to adjust exercises to avoid making it worse. It’s not serious – tendinitis, but it’s healing slowly. This week, I didn’t wear the brace every day because it felt better. And then yesterday afternoon the pain came back. Awesome. I thought I was going to have problems doing squats today, but once I had the sleeve on, it was fine. Squats and dead lifts went fine. But seated leg curl hurt, so that didn’t happen.
Another source of pain – occlusion training. I’m using it to bring up a lagging left hamstring and right quad. Four times a week, I wrap up and do single leg extensions and seated leg curls with blood flow restriction. Well, seated leg curls until today – they aggrevated the knee. Instead, I did laying leg curls with one leg wrapped. Occlusion training hurts. Each time I do it, I have to visualize why I’m doing it to finish those sets. And then it’s done. The wraps come off and I feel good. I like the results but it is uncomfortable.
The stress has taken a toll, too. My husband is worried. He told me the other morning that the new job has changed me. I know what he means. I haven’t felt like this in many years. I do believe that most of this stress is “first year in a new school” stress. Since they changed my teaching schedule, things have been getting easier. Slowly. I’m trying to make my workflow efficient like it used to be. I knew the learning curve would be steep. Until I can get organized and efficient, I need to work on my attitude about it. Teaching is an important job, and it’s important to me to be a good teacher, but it has been interfering with my peace of mind. And it’s not important enough to cause my husband to worry.
Since the beginning of September, I’ve lost almost 6 pounds. It’s coming off slow because my daily deficit is only 200-400 calories. Weight zig zags up and down, but trends downward over time. A few weeks ago, I was feeling pretty low. Weight loss stalled and my mood was blue. One day I decided to raise my calories to match my burn (the Bodybugg makes that possible without guessing). The next day, I dropped a couple pounds. I wouldn’t call it a “refeed” exactly, but I’ve been able to keep things progressing by having a day or two a week without a deficit. Carbs are still over 200 g most days. Gets up around 300 g on those days I eat at maintenance. It’s important to me to keep those carbs as high as possible.
I have been able to follow the program given to me, which was designed by my coach using daily undulating periodization (DUP). That means I’ve been progressing as planned without loss of strength during the cut – I think. I test max lifts again in a couple weeks. That will be telling. Some of the workouts can get a bit long, so I need to split them up into a morning and afternoon session, or over two days if I can’t get back to the gym in the afternoon. There have been a couple of weeks when an exercise or two just doesn’t happen, but considering how busy I am, I consider it a win that I’m getting it done almost every week.
This school year has been challenging. The training keeps me grounded. It helps me deal with the stress. But I can’t lie – some of those early mornings have caused me to question my resolve – especially now that it’s colder and I’m scraping the windshield at 3:15 am. Last weekend there was a big natural bodybuilding show in Boston. I was glued to FB looking for pictures to be posted of the pro female bodybuilders. I was in awe. To me, they are living sculptures. Every workout, every meal, every hour I sleep – it’s all part of my art. The discipline, the consistency, the science – it’s how I create my sculpture from the inside out. I’m as passionate about this as an artist is about the art they create. Lately, I’ve noticed that when I think about the “show”, I don’t think about competition. I think about presenting my work. I think about the routine as if it was a dance recital. And then I get excited. I love being strong. I want to be stronger. But what gets my heart racing is the art in bodybuilding.